Elgar Case Accused Surendra Gadling Seeks To Appear in Person To Argue Bail Plea; HC Seeks NIA Reply

Advocate Surendra Gadling, arrested in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, on Wednesday sought to appear in person before the Bombay High Court to argue his default bail plea himself.

A division bench of Justices A S Gadkari and P D Naik directed the National Investigation Agency’s (NIA) advocate Sandesh Patil to check with the concerned officer and inform if this could be permitted.

Gadling had filed his plea for default bail from prison through a legal aid cell advocate, Yashodeep Deshmukh.

After the plea was filed, the court received a letter from Gadling requesting that he be permitted to appear in person to argue his case.

In his letter, Gadling wrote that since the chargesheet was voluminous, running into around 30,000 pages, it would be difficult to brief the lawyer about the case.

He added that the time for meetings in prison was about 20 minutes and it would be difficult to brief the lawyer on the case in such a short period.

When the bail plea came up for hearing on Wednesday, the bench referred to the letter and noted that Gadling was himself a practising lawyer.

The court said that before it passes an order on the letter, it deemed it fit to first seek the NIA’s response.

“It shouldn’t happen that there should be any blame later,” the court said and posted the matter for further hearing on March 23.

Gadling was arrested in 2018 and has been in jail since then.

According to the NIA, Gadling is an active member of the Communist Party of India (CPI) (Maoist) and was involved in fund-raising activities and disbursement of the same.

In a related development, the same bench on Wednesday sought the NIA’s reply to the petitions filed by four other accused in the case – Mahesh Raut, Sudhir Dhawale, Shoma Sen and Rona Wilson – seeking default bail.

The court directed the agency to file the reply in three weeks.

The case relates to alleged inflammatory speeches delivered at the ‘Elgar Parishad’ conclave, held at Shaniwarwada in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the police claimed triggered violence the next day near the Koregaon Bhima war memorial located on the city’s outskirts.

The Pune Police claimed the conclave was backed by Maoists.

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